Galen Uptgraft - My Stay at the Lark Ellen Home for Boys - 1955-56

Hi Paul,
My name is Galen Uptgraft. I have been retired for 3 years. I worked as director of information systems at K-Swiss Footwear for some 20 years. I have been married 3 times and have 3 sons and a daughter. I went to under graduate and graduate school at Cal State Northridge and majored in Psychology. I worked for a brief time at the Children's Treatment Center at Cammarillo State Hospital. I was a Research Analyst at a shampoo factory called Redken. I spent 3 years in the Army, mostly in the south of Germany. I currently live in Valencia California with my wife Paulette. We have 1 grandson and 2 more on the way. Recently I happen to speak with and old friend who is active in the guild for 5 Acres. This brought back my memories at Lark Ellen so I went on the Web and found Paul's site.

I went to Lark Ellen when I was 12 years old in 1955 and1956. Reading some of the stories on the website brought back memories that I had long forgotten. I was sent to Lark Ellen by the court because of my incorrigible juvenile delinquency. I was petty much a lost child with no direction and headed down a path that led to nowhere. I remember some of the people but have forgotten many of the names of the other boys. I remember Mr. Miller and his family and our house mother miss Lulu. She was the archetypal mother always kind and understanding. I remember sitting in her room while she knitted talking about things like school and my life in general. She played the piano at morning chapel and taught us various Christian songs. I went to school at the old school building across the creek that ran through the Home. I believe the teachers name was Mr Reddy and maybe he wore a toupee. I can remember sweeping the leaves from the asphalt that was across the creek. I remember Ken Gamble as a very powerful figure that could see through any crap that you might have thrown his way.One of my fondest memories is the help of Bill McKnight in getting ready for the soap box derby. He helped all the boys in the derby by getting materials, plans and putting the finishing touches before Derby Day. On Derby day we all got up before sunrise and went to the Derby. I can remember the excitement and thrill of being in the Derby. I actually won a trophy for having the slowest time for winning a heat. The trophy is somewhere in the attic.

Christmas was very special. The Lions Club brought presents for all the boys, nice presents. I got a leather jacket that was beautiful. I loved that jacket. I remember some of the boys, namely, Bill Elkins and a boy we called Sharkey. There was a man, I forget his name, that was a film maker. He made a film of Bill running through the woods like some lost and frightened child. I remember something about Sharkey beating up the old hog we called CJ with a 2x4. Another special event was the Lark Ellen Relays. I forget where it was held but I remember we won and Bill said to Mrs Miller, "We won for you Mom."

I remember one morning being called to Mr Miller's office after breakfast. Sitting there in his office wondering what I could possibly have done and looking at the big carved wooden cat that was next to his desk. He came in and told me that my mother had died. I completely broke down crying and he held me in his arms until I was ready to go back to the dorm. I returned home with my Dad and lived there until he met a women. I am not sure of the reason but they sent me back to Lark Ellen, this time as a private case. This time I was in the older boys dorm and attended school at Citrus High School. I remember some of the other boys but can't recall their names. I actually looked forward to coming back. It was like coming home. I think that my time at Lark Ellen gave me a more solid foundation of love and direction and put me on a better path, without which who knows where I might have ended up.

Thanks Paul for your kindness in keeping up this site.

Galen Uptgraft

661 255 6800
661 733 5626

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